FFRF Sues the IRS for Not Going After Politically-Active Churches

We’ve known for a while now that when churches make political statements from the pulpit — like on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” — the IRS hasn’t been pursuing them for violations of their tax-exempt status as they should be.

The reason? Because no one at the IRS is in charge of the issue.

Now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing the IRS (PDF) for not doing their job. (How’s that for payback?)

The IRS may initiate a tax inquiry of a church or religious organization if a highranking IRS official documents in writing the acts and circumstances, including potential violations of the electioneering prohibition, that lead the official to reasonably believe that the Church may have violated the requirements for tax exemption under §501(c)(3).

In fact, however, the Internal Revenue Service, under the direction of the Defendant Shulman, has followed and continues to follow a policy of non-enforcement of the electioneering restrictions of §501(c)(3) against churches and other religious organizations.

As a result, in recent years, churches and religious organizations have been blatantly and deliberately flaunting the electioneering restrictions of §501(c)(3), including during the presidential election year of 2012.

The most jaw-dropping part of FFRF’s lawsuit has to be this:

The preferential tax-exemption that churches and other religious organizations obtain, despite noncompliance with electioneering restrictions, amounts to more than $100,000,000,000 annually in tax-free contributions made to churches and religious organizations in the United States.

If people are giving that much money, tax-free, to churches, we sure as hell better make sure these churches are following the law.

We can’t trust Christians to do the right thing — they need to look to a holy book to get their morals, after all — so the government needs to police them.

Pastors are allowed to endorse any politician they want privately. When they’re in the pulpit, though, they have to give up their church’s tax-exempt status if they want to do the same thing.

So far, churches have been flaunting the fact that they can get away with endorsing candidates without being punished for it, evening sending videos of their politician-endorsing sermons to the IRS.

It’s about time they pay for their crimes.

By the way, if you support what FFRF is doing, then send them a donation. Better yet, become a member like me.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Trickster Goddess

    It probably strengthens  their case that churches are voluntarily submitting videotaped confessions directly to the IRS, yet not a single case file has been opened for investigation.

    • Good and Godless

      The churches are pretending to be BOLD by standing up to the IRS.

      The IRS has long since admitted they do not have the authority structure in place to initiate an audit based on violations of this statute.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

        source? link?

        i don’t really think that’s true at all. the IRS is almost a supreme autonomous power in our society. while it’s certainly true that its direction is determined by what party is in power, there are very, very few who can withstand its scrutiny, and even fewer who don’t come under it’s authority. 

        if the rich, large corporations, and politically connected groups like the churches don’t suffer from what the IRS can do, it’s because there are orders from on high to make this the case. but i’ll tell you from personal experience reviewing tax records of some of those groups, even when they are, the rich concerns and people who don’t pay taxes do so because the parts of the IRS that would investigate them are underfunded, at the orders of political friends. google what bush ordered the IRS to focus on, if you want an example of what i mean. 

        but FSM help you if you’re a small, politically unconnected business owner who owes a few thousand in back taxes due to an accounting mix up. they’ll spend everything you owe, and more, coming after that amount and the draconian interest attached to it. and you will not escape. 

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

          and the IRS has had no problem going after anti-war churches for “political” speech. google that. 

          • Quintin van Zuijlen

            To be honest though, it was one church before the 2004 elections.

        • Good and Godless

          Interestingly, just weeks after 1,000 pastors
          participated in the effort, the IRS has
          temporarily suspended church audits while
          amendments to the regulatory structure are
          considered. On his blog “Religion Clause,
          Howard Friedman, professor of law emeritus
          at the University of Toledo, explained this
          change, which is apparently based upon a
          2009 court case — and an influx of
          complaints against churches that have
          become too politically active:

          • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

            What BS. They almost never audit churches anyway. And now they are pretending to wait for new regulation. I hope this lawsuit goes somewhere.

            I live in a town where the churches probably own a good 1/2 of the city but pay no taxes on it and still benefit from fire and police protection ad nauseum.

            • Good and Godless

              2011 Catholic Church is listed as #3 largest landholder in the world.

              Other churches will just pile onto that total.

  • Quintin van Zuijlen

    Got to love that cartoon.

    • Good and Godless

      Scale is off.
      Shield is too big,Money pile is too small,
      Political Agenda is too small.

  • RobertoTheChi

    It’s about time! It’s ridiculous that these churches have been able to get away with this and for so long. Tax the hell out of them!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

      THE POWER TO TAX IS THE POWER TO DESTROY
      Oh yeah, thats the idea.

      • Good and Godless

        Artificially justifing the legitimacy of any religion by tolerance is clearly a flaw. It is unfair this avenue for social treason was not clearly and fully excluded when the 1st Amendment was drafted. It is time to correct that flaw left by our founding fathers and end constraints imposed by myth and superstition.
        Change the constitution remove any rights of religion, as it is demonstrated time and time again that churches cannot be trusted with good policy and respect of rule of law.The burden on society is alarming.TAX THE CHURCH! Soon after the IRS, FDA and Consumer Protection will reign reason down upon the church and those that cannot hold up to scrutiny (all of them) will have to shut down.Nations tried religious tolerance for a couple hundred years – and religion abused the relationship crippling politics, education and abusing the tax system.No more “live and let live” time to amend the constitution and close down these dens of fraud and deceit.Freedom forever, religion never.Lets try National Atheism for 200 years and see how much more we can accomplish without being impeded by Myth and Superstition.

        • Rwlawoffice

           If you are not joking, then you are disturbed. You live in a country founded by Christians on Christian principles and which was built by religious people into the most successful and free country on the planet.  If you want to look for the  effect of a country built on atheism or reason, look at France following the French revolution or the communist countries that invoked national secular atheism. 

           

            If you lose the freedom of religion, you lose freedom.  Our founding fathers understood the problems of state religions and thus allowed for freedom of religion, however they also understood that a people allowed to freely practice their faith was the cornerstone of freedom for all. 

           For all the talk among atheist about the harm of
          religion, the facts are far different. You can try and change history
          all you want,  but human rights, the value of humans and the vulnerable
          have been advanced and championed by the religious people in our society
          because of their religious beliefs. And while you are at it, look for atheist sponsored hospitals,
          orphanages, help to the poor and sick.  It is almost non existent and
          has been for centuries.

          • Good and Godless

            You laughable dedication to the remaining auspices under which historical revisionist claim this nation was founded under is a tragic reminder of the corrupting influence of religious entities on the world.

            There is no god, there is no reason to have religion.

            We can be just as respectful to human rights, true discourse and violent conflict without the pervasive lie of theology.

            • Rwlawoffice

               The only folks trying to revise history are the atheists who are trying to remove Christianity from our history just as they are trying to remove it from the present. 

              The only time secular atheists have run countries and tried to wipe out religion in our human history have shown what happens to human rights  and it isn’t pretty. Seems ironic that those that view the ultimate authority to be humans treat them so bad when they remove God but they do.

              • Good and Godless

                If you paid attention in school past the third grade, and many are wondering if you did, you would have learned the nation was founded as a tax dodge by a group of rich landholders. They brought on the religious crowd with an afterthought which easily motivated them for hundreds of years.

                Religion would almost be tolerable if it was not a complete lie.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Your view of U.S. history has been warped by your desire to erode the roll of Christianity in the formation of our country. You really should view the facts without your atheists blinders on because you are flat wrong.

                • Good and Godless

                  Whatever the past was (and your wrongness is abundant) The successful  future requires a godless morality free of the oppression of christ-stains.

        • Deven Kale

           Any country which mandates that it’s residents follow a certain belief system is doomed to failure (except China, of course. They’re the exception for a lot of things). North Korea demands they worship their leader. Iran/Iraq/Egypt demands they worship Allah. The more freedoms which are taken away, the more difficult the people are to govern. Take away religious freedom, and you take away many peoples entire identities. That’s a recipe for upheaval/civil war.

          The way to get rid of religion is not by fiat, but by education. Showing people the truth of their religion is what will get them to understand it’s flaws. Once a critical mass of non-believers is reached, religious believers will lose their influence and the Country can get to healing itself from it’s previous religious bigotry.

          To do so any other way is to invite not only war, but guarantee the strengthening of religion (anything which is banned becomes more attractive, we’ve seen this uncounted times throughout history). Neither option is really good for a country’s future. It may not be the easy way, but it’s the only way that will actually work.

          • Good and Godless

            Get started then.

            We tried to block religion from government when we tried “tolerating” it 200 years ago.

            The republicans keep pulling religion back into government because it is such a simple (yet effective ruse). Luckily they just lost, hopefully marking the turning point.

            • Deven Kale

              Well, I don’t see the Republicans removing God from their platform anytime soon, they’re too invested in the idea. What I think we’ve just seen is the Republican party starting to lose it’s power. I would bet that the next election will see the Republicans losing even more seats and the election of a few more third-party members. In 16 years the Republican party will become the third-party candidate suing to be let in on the debates. The only thing I can’t guess at with any certainty is which party will be replacing them.

  • Tracker

    This may sound naive but where/how can we show the government that we support this lawsuit?  Local and state representatives for starters, anyone else?

    • Douglas Steimle

      Well, for one thing, there’s a petition on this very subject at petitions.WhiteHouse.gov. 

      • DKeane123

        I didn’t see a particular petition on this subject.

        • Fsm

           I did, I filtered by tax and revenue and it was about the sixth one.

          • Tracker

            Thank you!  Done!

  • http://www.christianfighterpilot.com/blog JD

    The FFRF is giving those churches what they want.  The reason they’ve been sending their videos in is because they want the opportunity for the Supreme Court to rule the Johnson Amendment unconstitutional as it applies to churches.  Given the history of taxation respective to religious bodies, they may have a strong argument.

    Remember, the restriction on church activity is fairly new to modern times.  Their tax status isn’t.

    • Good and Godless

      Their tax status is unconstitutional, as it is clearly a passed law favoring the establishment of religion.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

        Except that now the taxes are being used as a threat to “restrict the free excercise thereof”.

        • Good and Godless

          Oh no! Rocky thinks it is not really freedom if you get taxed JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.

    • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

      If there is a First Amendment issue here, it’s not a free exercise issue since endorsing candidates is not in any reasonable sense a necessary part of religious expression. It would have to be a free speech issue, but it’s not entirely clear that anyone else really has a problem with this in terms of secular non-profits (like the FFRF itself). This is just another case where people are trying to protect religious privilege, not religious expression.

      And you do realize that saying that tax-exemptions for churches has a long tradition is no argument for it, right?

      • TheodoreSeeber

        It certainly isn’t an argument to people like you and the FRFF, who are just censoring dictators who hate the past.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

      Johnson gave us other great things.

      Like years of war in Vietnam.

  • K Stone

    We can’t trust Christians to do the right thing — they need to look to a holy book to get their morals, after all — so the government needs to police them.doesn’t separation of church and state go both ways? just make churches pay taxes, and don’t create any more government positions for policing churches. it’s bound to be corrupted either direction – by preferential treatment by like-minded religious civil servants, or by unbridled biases from the non-religious. the fact that you think there should be government church police is incredibly disturbing.

    • Quintin van Zuijlen

      The thing is, there’s already such an entity. It’s simply refusing to do its job when churches are concerned.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

      And you can’t trust the government to do the right thing either.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    and good laird! 100B???? i had no idea it was that much.

    tax them. tax them all. 

    • Aaronlane

       It can’t possibly be that much money. 100B is $318 a year for every man, woman and child in the US. That’s $6 in the offering plate every week for everyone in the country. That number isn’t even reasonable given the church attendance figures.

      They would have been better off to make an estimate of assets!

      • Deven Kale

         Considering that my own parents give 10% of their income to their church, their contribution amounts to $6-7,000 every year, and that’s just for the two of them (all us kids are adults now). With numbers like that, $318 for every person in the US starts to seem reasonably possible.

      • Coyotenose

         The number is estimated closer to 130 billion, IIRC. What you have to understand is that people use churches as writeoff shelters. By way of example, the Romneys put many millions into a “charitable” trust fund that was supposed to pay off its interest each year to the Mormon church, but the structure of the fund was such that the Romneys could withdraw almost all of the payout each year* before the church got it. So they poured their money in, deducted it, made it tax free, then each year would draw back out what was supposed to be charity and used it themselves. What was actually donated was often less than what I carry in my wallet (and I work retail…)

        *I have no fucking clue how this is legal.

      • Lee

        It certainly is over $100B a year. My wife and I give several thousand dollars each year on a salary of +-$60,000. The church does great work in equipping, medical care for poor/elderly, missions, and community development throughout our city. However, if I ever heard anything remotely political from my church’s pastors I would pull my money in a heartbeat and donate it to the Freedom from Religion Foundation! 

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

          Yeah, because the FFRF is doing great work in equiping, medical care for the Poor/Elderly, and community development.

          • Deven Kale

             Why should they? Not every organization needs to be charitable in order to exist. Saying otherwise is ridiculous.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

              Thats as good an excuse as any. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

      THE POWER TO TAX IS THE POWER TO DESTROY!

      oops…thats supposed to be a secret.

      • Bryan Gillis

         So… by that logic, since freedom of the press is guaranteed in the same amendment that freedom of religion is, the government shouldn’t be allowed to tax any media organization, right?

  • Xencave

    I think that for the IRS, it’s a matter of cost. It’s probably far more cost effective for them to go after either big businesses or individuals that will quickly settle versus the possibly of long, drawn out court battles with the churches in question.

    It could very well be that they are actually fearful of the public backlash for going after churches. The IRS doesn’t really have the reputation of a “kind neighbor” and going after churches would make them seem even more like a villain. Or to take it to a further extent, churches could convince the masses that it’s the government itself that’s doing something evil to them. People tend to jump on the bandwagon right away if they feel that their religious institution is “under attack”.

    Regardless, kudos to the FFRF for hopefully shedding a big light on this issue. I hope it becomes a VERY public endeavor and gets people’s attention. Even if they don’t win the court battle, it should help to get this issue the notice it deserves.

    • david23

       Doe not cost the IRS anything to pull the churches ability to give a tax receipt for money given to the church. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Buchholz/1203282337 Christopher Buchholz

      Actually i’ve read the IRS doesn’t go after “big” business for that very reason: you can fight a company that has armies of full times lawyers and accountants, or a smaller company or individual. For the same reason: cost. Hell all regulatory bodies have this problem.
      but churches are not huge, and if each individual church is incorporated separately, then cost is not an issue. it’s fear. The IRS auditors may indeed be robots controlled by cold-blooded alien lizards, but they are not dumb.

  • http://www.aicwebmaster.net/ Richard Smith

    I don’t know if it’s true, but I heard there was a poll that stated 60+% of the US (extrapolated from sample) are for the taxation of churches. Churches take in a combined $30 billion from donations and that doesn’t count the income from investments the churches have made, so you can easily double that figure as they haven’t paid taxes – in my lifetime!  They want a say in our election process, pay taxes just like the rest of Americans and American business. Maybe then, we could tame this deficit with a lot less pain!

  • Rich Lane

    “As a result, in recent years, churches and religious organizations have been blatantly and deliberately flaunting the electioneering restrictions of §501(c)(3), including during the presidential election year of 2012.”

    It should be “flouting the electioneering restrictions.”

    • Maria

      I didn’t even catch that! Grammar freaks unite!

  • Octoberfurst

     All churches should be taxed but especially those churches that flagrantly violated the law. They deliberately set out looking for a fight right before the election so they could run and scream to Fox News that Obama was persecuting the church. It was all part of an agenda. 
      But now that the election is over I say go the IRS should go after these morons full steam.  Take away their tax-exempt status!  They want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to be tax-exempt AND be able to preach politics from the pulpit. Sorry it doesn’t work that way.  If they were honest they would give up their tax-exempt status so they COULD preach whatever they wanted. But no, they are greedy hypocrites.
      Thank the FSM for the FFRF! I hope they push the IRS into doing the right thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dillard.jenkins Dillard Jenkins

    Religions greatest enemy is knowledge, law suits are not the most effective weapons, education is. Our education institutions are dysfunctional because our society’s minds have become fat and lazy like our bodies. We are failing in teaching science and math, and the reading and writing abilities are terrible. Religious based dictators always eventually take over uneducated nations, Afghanistan has more illiterate people than any nation on earth, and they are not all women. We should try our best to prevent that from happening here.

    • Baal

      ” Our education institutions are dysfunctional”
      So far as this is a true statement its due to Rightwingauthoritarians scaring teachers from presenting reality and the same RWAs work tirelessly to defund schools through voucher and other $$ diversionary efforts.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Churches are non profit organizations just like the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the American Atheist. All of which are tax exempt and all of which talk about religious idea all be it from different perspectives. If you are going to say that they cannot be involved in politics then the same should go for all of these organizations. 

     When a church advocates that their members should vote their religious beliefs without mentioning a specific candidate then they are well within their rights to do so.  When a pastor outside of the pulpit expresses his religious views he has every right to do so as an American citizen.  Churches have been involved in politics for all of our history. A recent example would be the civil rights movement that thrived and was supported by the black churches in the south.  It is well within their constitutional rights to do so.

    This is just another example of FFRF and other atheists wanting to silence Christians from the political process. 

    • Quintin van Zuijlen

      Difference being that neither AA or FFRF endorse candidates, which their 501(c)3 status prohibits. The same 501(c)3 status that religious organizations fall under by the way. All churches participating in pulpit freedom sunday violate this prohibition.

    • Marco Conti

      Not true. I want them to be as vocal as they feel they need to be, but if they endorse candidates or a party then they need to pay taxes.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Buchholz/1203282337 Christopher Buchholz

      no, FFRF , American Atheists, and all other organizations ALSO cannot endorse candidates. it is quite simple. Follow the rules and enjoy non profit status. do not follow the rules and lose it.

      It is an example of of atheists wanting to stop one group of people from spreading lawlessness, which violates the 1st amendment if the govenrment does not enforce the law against churches, but does against other groups.

      • Rwlawoffice

         So when the American Atheist post billboards attacking moromonism in Florida during the Republican National convention, they were attacking Romney, a political candidate.  Were they violating the Johnson Amendment? 

        • Quintin van Zuijlen

          If they specifically aimed it at Romney, and said you shouldn’t vote for him, then they should be stripped of their 501(c)3 status immediately, and I’d hope they wouldn’t mind turning themselves in. However, unlike all the churches, they attack ideas, not people. The billboards were about Mormonism, not Romney. Would any of their billboards attacking Christianity or religion in general constitute a counter-endorsement of Obama and all other federal representatives? Would any of their billboards promoting godlessness have been an endorsement of Pete Stark, the only openly irreligious congressman until the end of his term?

          • Rwlawoffice

             So the fact that these billboards were posted in Tampa during the Republican National convention that was naming a Mormon candidate as its nominee was merely a coincidence?

            • Quintin van Zuijlen

              I highly doubt it. Still, it’s not endorsing candidates. You could even argue that it’s merely informing voters of what they might be voting for. Is that somehow not allowed?

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

                So are churches somehow not allowed to inform voters of what they might be voting for?

                • Deven Kale

                   They’re very much allowed to preach about topics being voted on, just like any other 501(c)3. Also just like any other 501(c)3, they lose their tax-exemption when they endorse specific candidates. That’s all.

                • JoFro

                  Have churches done that? The evidence shows they have not ever endorsed a specific candidate! Man, u atheists fail on so many levels!

                • Deven Kale

                  Not ever? You obviously didn’t look very hard. How about the Church of Saint Catherine of Siena on September 2 of this year? Or the Legacy Church in Charleston, SC on October 7 (pulpit freedom Sunday).  And those only took me five minutes to find.

                  Man, you Christians fail on so many levels.

    • Coyotenose

       Good golly gosh, RW, ignoring what’s been said here as well as easily obtainable public information so he can try to frame the argument according to his persecution fantasies? Whodathunk?

    • Pureone

      Oh, so the directors/presidents/heads of those 501(c)3 non-profit groups get to take the double tax benefit of a housing deduction plus mortgage interest deduction on even multiple homes “just like” pastors of  churches? No? 

      Can you give me an example of any 501(c)3 intentionally violating the electoral silence? I can give you many by churches.

      Others have already discussed the pulpit freedom sunday issue.

      I can see why the feeling of persecution, what with all the coddling and privilege.

      • Rwlawoffice

        The American Atheist Association posted billboards and other media about Romney’s Mormon faith. They did this during the Republican national convention.  This was an attack on a candidate during an election and in violation of the Johnson amendment. Should they lose their tax exempt status?

        The FFRF posted on its website and told its members that as “secular” people they should get engaged to vote secular values such as the right to an abortion and  gay marriage is opposition to the religious right. Not unlike pastors telling their members that they should vote on biblical principles. Should they lose their tax exempt status?

        http://ffrf.org/get-involved/item/15140-secular-vote

        I think that it is funny that when churches complain about being singled out and having their rights taken away, those that are attacking them argue that the churches are crying persecution. The desired result of the attack is  to silence the churches and keep them out of the political process so I think that persecution is exactly the right word.

        I believe that the Johnson Amendment is unconstitutional and that is probably going to be the result of this lawsuit. I imagine the IRS really doesn’t want to test this issue and that is why they don’t enforce it.  The ADF should thank FFRF for bringing this suit.   

        • Quintin van Zuijlen

          Hey, churches are allowed to say the exact opposite of what the FFRF says. They’re not allowed to say that anyone should vote for any specific candidate though, and neither is the FFRF. Except some churches do what they’ve agreed with government not to do.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Danny-Stevens/784713369 Danny Stevens

           The FFrF only encourages people to vote and to think about the issues. They do not endorse or oppose a party or a candidate.

          • Rwlawoffice

             Actually, Pulpit Freedom Sunday asked pastors to encourage people to vote biblical principles without endorsing any particular candidate 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Buchholz/1203282337 Christopher Buchholz

    I don’t understand why church leaders of demoninations aren’t cracking down on pastors who do this. It seems pretty simple, “you don’t work for yourself, you work for us, and you will follow the rules” Just like anyone in any job, we all have rules to follow.

    They sure as hell fire people in leadership positions who go against their policies when it comes to dogma. So why not these pastors who are putting their non profit status in jeopardy?

    Any company will reprimand people that don’t follow policies, or put the company in a position where they might get fined or sued.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Danny-Stevens/784713369 Danny Stevens

       The only person who could fire Billy Grahame is Billy Grahame.

  • ImRike

    It looks like there are still about 2000 signatures needed. Get going, everybody!

    • Deven Kale

      Oops. That wasn’t supposed to be a response.

  • Deven Kale

    I’m calling it now: Faux News and other conservative pundits will be calling FFRF a secret pawn of Obama in 3 … 2 ….

  • http://twitter.com/CPRMSJ Capu Letto

    It is about time that these religious groups pay taxes like everyone else.  What makes them think they are better than the rest of us? Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar!

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      “What makes them think they are better than the rest of us?”

      A sense of moral superiority compounded by a sense of entitlement.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

        Is that why atheists are always telling us how much smarter and more moral they are than the rest of us?

        • Deven Kale

           No-one said they actually have superior morals, just a sense that they do. Big difference. ;)

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

            Well said.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

      So much for separation of church and state.

      That said, if they are taxed then there will be no right to restrict any political statements whatsoever that they want to make.

      • Deven Kale

         If they’re already making political statements anyway, then I guess that means it wouldn’t be changing much anyway, now would it?

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

          It would change a lot, because a lot of pastors don’t make political statements.

          But if they are taxed, they might as well get started! LOL!

  • http://twitter.com/BetterOffDamned Better Off Damned

    “We can’t trust Christians to do the right thing — they need to look to a holy book to get their morals, after all — so the government needs to police them.”

    That’s absolutely right. Back during the “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” event a bunch of these churches were just pretending. They’d promote the event, breach the law by endorsing their candidate(s), but had no real intention of submitting themselves to the IRS.

    We showed up to one of these churches with a camera and they panicked. They got paranoid and kept asking, basically, “Who sent you? Who are you working for?”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEDY111T-Cw

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

      “We’re from the government and we’re here to help you.”

      You can’t trust the government to do the right thing.

      In fact, you can’t trust the government.

      • Deven Kale

        Neither a church or the government can be fully trusted, but at least the Government releases their finances. So there’s at least that much more trust for the government than a church.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

          Right.  There is nothing deceptive about the Governments Budgetary Figures.

          No Sir.

          No Way.

          • Deven Kale

            Churches don’t even take it far enough to lie about them, they just don’t release anything and expect us to take their word for it? Nah. No thanks.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

              So you admit that the government lies?

              O.K. I feel better about it now.

              • Deven Kale

                 Christians… Always so good at putting words into other people’s mouths. Re-read what I said. At no point did I agree that the government lies. I said nothing at all about the government, that was all you. Please work on your reading comprehension. Thank you.

  • angela

    They should hire me, I’d be happy to do it!

  • Jason

    As a Christian and a pastor, I endorse and applaud this article and am very disheartened at the way the pulpit has bee used to endorse certain political agendas and candidates.  I believe my role and responsibility as a Jesus follower and pastor of a church with tax-exempt status is not to ever abuse that position to sway parishioners towards any political position from the pulpit.  I wonder how many pastors would continue to do so if their tax exempt status was threatened to be removed.

    It is the harsh truth that this caricature is far too accurate, but I know there are many like myself that are just as vehemently opposed to such unethical (and un-Jesus like) behaviour.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Danny-Stevens/784713369 Danny Stevens

       Kudos, Jason. Thanks for speaking up.

    • JoFro

      U seem to be an idiot!

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Yes, because the way to win is always censorship, right?

  • http://twitter.com/culturewarnotes Culture War Notes

    Absolutely!If people don’t pay the necessary taxes, they have no right to free speech!My right to free speech comes from the fact that I pay taxes.
    The churches have a right to free speech only if they pay the government.
    Without that payment, they don’t have any free speech rights!That’s what “free speech” means!
    It means you have to PAY FIRST!

    • Quintin van Zuijlen

      Churches already have it easy because they get an automatic 501(c)3 status just for being a religious organization which they don’t even have to prove.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

        Atheists are always calling for “Separation” of Church and State.

        But if the Church is paying taxes it is not “Separate” but “Dependent”.

        “THE POWER TO TAX IS THE POWER TO DESTROY”.

  • http://twitter.com/culturewarnotes Culture War Notes

    “Free” Means “Pay”!
    “War” means “Peace”!
    The IRS *MUST ENFORCE* Minitrue Regulations!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

      And “Freedom From…” means “Elimination Of…”

  • http://kwpolska.tk/ Kwpolska

    The money sack is too tiny!

  • Tom

     “By the way, if you support what FFRF is doing, then send them a donation. Better yet, become a member like me.”  Mr. Mehta, you are definitely an atheist, but friendly is not the word that describes you.  You are essentially a pimp for the FFRF, as noted by the quote.  You support everything they do, regardless of validity, including attacking the Steubenvile, Ohio, logo (even other atheists found that appalling).  When you lose you won’t admit it (e.g. Texas Cheerleader case), and you are much more interested in provoking the woo-hoos of other like narrow-minded atheists that encouraging a rational discussion on your blog.  You are not a lawyer, a political scientist, biblical scholar or sociologist, but assert expertise in all of these.  What if the IRS also investigates the political actions of the FFRF based on the fanatical support for Obama and opposition to Republican candidates in your many postings, given your close ties to the FFRF?

    • Piet Puk

      Butt hurt..

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

        Nah, a lot of money.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

      The FFRF makes money off these cases.

  • Nocturne6

    I stay away from churches so I wouldn’t know, but I’ve been told by family that the churches are pushing this fight because the *want* the case to be brought to the courts.  Makes me wonder why.

    • JoFro

      Because the amendment is likely going to be treated as unconstitutional – that’s why!


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